Indian lentil dal with basmati rice

Indian cuisine is exquisite, and if you didn’t already know that – just try this flavour-rich dal recipe. 

I fell in love with Indian food the first time I tried it at an excellent restaurant in Madrid. It was even adapted to European taste – nothing hot, just a delicious blend of spices I could not really differentiate. A few minutes after my Indian friend and I finished our meal, I got the amazing opportunity to move to Tenerife. We’ve had the inside joke of Indian food bringing me good luck ever since. Which reminds me I need to go get some vegetable Kofta next week.

To my surprise, the island of Tenerife has a massive Indian community of families who have moved here generations ago. I even got the chance to visit an incredible Indian temple in the south of the island. There, I got to enjoy a varied plant-based meal, served in an excitingly large metal plate. What is more, we had a little tour of the temple, learning about the most popular Hindu gods. We finished our visit dancing and laughing which was undoubtedly the best part.

Fast-forward a few months and I was back in Madrid, at my friend’s house, enjoying home-cooked Indian food. This is when I tried dal, a lentil-based cream, which can be enjoyed with flat bread (such as Paratha) or basmati rice.

– It’s very easy to make – the girl who prepared it said to me.

I could not possibly believe her. Something that tasty was surely a pain to elaborate.

Well, well, was I wrong. The recipe that she gave me is pretty simple and it brings great results. It uses yellow lentils and an astonishing blend of spices. If it were the Middle Ages, having this meal would have cost me a fortune, as spices were so precious back in the day. Nowadays, thankfully, I can happily enjoy this meal and the amazing luck it brings me once a week!

Indian lentil dal with basmati rice

Ingredients:

½ cup yellow lentils, 1 cup water
2 Tsp oil
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp ginger powder or 1 cm of crushed ginger
1 tsp curry
6-7 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chili powder
1 cup of water
½ tsp garam masala powder
1 Tsp lemon juice
2 stalks coriander, finely chopped
salt to taste

Method

I like to soak my lentils overnight.
Cook the lentils uncovered for 15-20 minutes. First, bringing the water to a rapid simmer, then turning the heat down to low. When ready, blend into a paste about 3/4 of the cooked lentils (I prefer my dal to have some texture but you can also blend them all).
Into a pan, fry off the cumin and mustard seeds. Add the onion and simmer until it becomes transparent.
Next, put garlic, crushed ginger and tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes have softened.
Pour in the lentils. Mix it together with turmeric and red chili powder.
Use about a cup of water to thin out the dal. Simmer for a bit, then put the gram masala powder.
Add lemon juice and serve with coriander to freshen up the dish.

Basmati rice is easy to cook and it goes perfectly with this recipe. Bring to boil 2 cups of water. Put in a cup of basmati rice (preferably rinsed, then soaked for a few hours) and wait until the water starts boiling again. Cover the pot and bring the heat to low. After 15 minutes remove the lid and let the remaining water, if any, evaporate. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve it on the side.

The original recipe calls for green and red chili peppers and a few other spices I could not get my hands on. If you are Indian, this dal might not taste just right, especially considering the fact it’s not even hot.

Still, this dish boasts an explosion of varied tastes and it’s well-worth a try. See for yourself why the Indian cuisine is one of the most acclaimed internationally!

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